Sidelined, but Fighting

Sidelined, but Fighting

The Graciousness of God

Part 3

My first memory of church was Vacation Bible School at Bethel Baptist Church in the summer of 1975. We lived in West Plains, Missouri, at the time, and I was five years old.

words TRACI PRATER

The church was tiny and had a working outhouse about 40 paces from the back door. It was very hot, and we were playing Red Rover. After the game broke up, we were to go in the basement and have Kool-Aid and weird sugary sticks with crisscrosses on the top.

Somehow, I got pushed down the concrete steps and fell belly down at the bottom. I jammed my middle finger, and it hurt. A nice older lady picked me up and took me inside and held me in her lap until I was better. God is gracious.

Boat Story

I continued to attend VBSs in the summers, but I didn’t really meet Jesus until the summer of 1983. A girl I had just met invited me to her church one evening. My mom dropped me off, and Kara and I went walking around the church until we found the pastor. He was telling a story to the elementary kids about a bunch of men on a ship. The captain was in charge and his son was the first mate. A huge, terrible storm arose and a hole was torn in the hull. They began to sink. The men panicked and ran to and fro, not knowing what to do. The captain was asking everyone where his son was, but no one knew.

All of a sudden, the boat stopped sinking and the wind and waves became calm again. Everyone was amazed and happy. They were saved! Then the captain found his son. The first mate had put his body in the hole to save the crew. The pastor explained this is what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross. God is gracious.

Unconditional Love

The following January, I gave my life to Christ. I was 13 years old. My dad had died when I was eight, and my mom had met a man the very next year. I was starving for my mom’s love and attention, but I believed it was all going to the new man. The Lord came near to me and gave me His unconditional love. God is gracious.

My senior year of high school did not turn out like I had expected. I made good grades but only qualified for one scholarship in the amount of $520. I had cleaned houses and babysat during the last three years, but did not have any real money to put towards college. My mom has always been extremely intelligent and promoted education above all else, so when she told me she didn’t have any money to put towards my college, I was stunned. Even though she was a single parent, she had always provided for my needs, so how could this be?

The week before I graduated, my Uncle Ray called and said he had arranged for me to start work at his friend’s title company the following Monday. He went on to say my paycheck would go to college, and he would make up any difference. God is gracious.

Boys

In college, I was making bad choices with the wrong boys. In complete desperation, I cried out to the Lord and begged Him to assure me He had chosen my spouse and would reveal him to me at the proper time. On Oct. 30, 1993, a boy I had met at church asked me to a Halloween party. Seven months later, we were married. God is gracious.

Three years later, we decided to start a family. The barriers were removed, and we believed a baby was imminent. Months went by, then years went by. We were perplexed as to why we had not been able to conceive. During this time, my husband was teaching ninth grade boys at our church. They would come over on Friday nights occasionally and hang out with us, and I’d make them cookie dough. We loved these boys and started to believe maybe our calling was to love on other people’s kids and to let go of the dream of having our own.

In the first week of February 2004, we went to the Dominican Republic for our 10th anniversary. I was so sick. Several of the ladies we had traveled with suggested I was pregnant. I gently informed them it had been seven years and that door was probably shut since we had the youth at our church to love on. I went to the doctor as soon as we returned, and I was eight weeks along. God is gracious.

We had come up with several names for our baby boy, but they were family names we didn’t quite have a peace about. One day, my husband was looking through a name book and suggested the name “Zane.” I liked the sound of it but wondered what it meant. He read, “The name Zane means, ‘The Lord is gracious,’ in Hebrew.” Of course this became our son’s name.

Zane

When Zane was born, he had four issues:  jaundice, one hip wasn’t set, he had a hole in his heart, and he had a cataract in his right eye. The pediatric optometrist gathered his team and came in on a Saturday to remove the cataract when Zane was just nine days old. The jaundice and the hole in his heart went away in two or three weeks. In a month, his hip was set. God is gracious.

Because Zane had these issues at birth, we spoke to a genetic counselor. In doing the homework we were assigned, we found there was breast cancer down both sides of my family, but nothing that affected Zane. In 1990, I had had a lump in my breast. I was 20 and scared to death. It was benign. In 2018, I found a lump in my breast and it, too, was benign. God is gracious.

Stage 4 Colon Cancer

In March of this year, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to my liver. One sizable tumor in my colon and five lesions in my liver were discovered. There had been no blood in my stool, nor fatigue, nor weight loss, nor any of the symptoms associated with colon cancer. I would have never known I had cancer without the sharp pain God graciously gave me and the guidance my primary care doctor gave me to ask for a CT scan. God is gracious.

Now I am living in 24/7 dependence on our good God and His guidance, strength, and grace. Each day I ask Him to use me, if possible, to do something good. One day, I received an email from one of my friends saying a KY3 reporter was looking for a person undergoing treatment for colon cancer, preferably Stage 4. I contacted the reporter, and she interviewed me that day. After she aired the story, several people reached out to me saying they had thought about getting a colonoscopy, but they had put it off. But no more, they said. God is gracious.

I had no voice before. I felt I had nothing to say, but right now, in the midst of my cancer, I need to tell you God loves you, and He longs to be gracious to you. In your pain and in your suffering, He is there.

Even writing this article is evidence of God’s grace. I had no voice before. I felt I had nothing to say, but right now, in the midst of my cancer, I need to tell you God loves you, and He longs to be gracious to you. In your pain and in your suffering, He is there.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love,” (Psalm 103:8). TP

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8 responses to “Sidelined, but Fighting”

  1. Traci, I’m saddened to hear about your cancer illness. You are such a special person. We have personal history as well as our business history. I love and respect you! You will be in my prayers until your recovery ❤️‍🩹 I LOVE YOU TRACI

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Traci, you don’t know me, but I have a cancer history that relates closely to yours. Without going into too much detail, I had stage 4 colon or pancreatic cancer (they’re not sure which) about three years ago. I was treated with immunotherapy and, by all indicators, have been cancer free and healthy for about two. I write for two reasons 1. hope and encouragement 2. If your oncologist hasn’t already considered that you might have Lynch syndrome, you should get the genetic test. Anyway, since my cancer, I find myself caring greatly about people, often ones I don’t even know, so maybe that explains my writing this. I wish you the absolute best!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Precious Traci, Your path has taken a sharp, tough turn. You’ll be in my prayers each day. There’s nothing like hearing the doctor tell you this news, especially, when you have no real clue it’s coming! You, and your family, are on my mind so much. Your faith will hold you when you’re alone in your thoughts. “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me” Psalm 16:8. Thanks for sharing this tough news, and letting me pray with you!

    Liked by 1 person

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